Think about it...
Aren't there are certain drawings and paintings that excite you when you see them?
Artwork, that when you look at it, you think "wow that's amazing, I wish I could do something like that".
It's probably that kind of artwork that inspired you to take up drawing or painting in the first place.
But now you're frustrated.
Your art doesn't look like that and you don't know why. You're spending too much time making pictures that you're not happy with at all.
Maybe you're coming to the conclusion that just don't have that natural artistic eye.
The truth is you can learn how to draw and paint pictures that delight you... you and the people you show them to.
When the final result is something you're proud of, the process becomes a pleasure instead of a frustration.
And that's how any hobby should be!
So what do you need to become a proficient artist?
You need the right direction, a bit of friendly encouragement and the enthusiasm to practice.
That's what we'll try and give through How To Draw & Paint.
Like music, art is very much about taste.
But I think we can agree that whether it's to your taste or not, some drawings and paintings show incredible talent and look highly-accomplished, while others look child-like and amateurish.
Maybe some of those child-like images have been created by highly-skilled artists who have chosen to move in that direction. But I don't think that's why you're here...
I think you want to learn how to draw and paint pictures that show a high-level of technical skill.
It's those kinds of images that fill you with a real sense of achievement when you stand back and look at them.
So now ask yourself this question:
What is it about the artwork you judge to be 'good' that differs from artwork you judge as 'bad'?
If you're like a lot of people, you'll probably struggle to put your finger on anything specific. If I were to push you, you might say something about realism... how good artwork looks more like the real thing than bad artwork.
It's a fair point, so let's think about realism for a moment...
Does a drawing or a painting have to look like a photograph for it to be impressive?
Of course not.
There's lots of art that looks nothing like real life, but is still seriously impressive!
Pencil and charcoal drawings are a very simple example - they often use loose, sketchy marks, nothing like what we see in the real world.
Have a look at the following portraits:
These pictures are not photo-realistic representations of life. The Daniel Craig image couldn't use more surreal colours if it tried.
But there is still something very believable and very adept about each of them.
In my opinion, what all the images above display, and what all talented artwork displays, is something called observational skill.
There are certain consistent characteristics in any good-looking drawing or painting. These include:
The first two characteristics define the outline or structure of your image.
The third allows you to turn a flat, 2D image into something that looks 3-dimensional.
The fourth is about knowing how to organise your image in a way that creates interest (and very often that's about knowing what to leave out).
If you can observe and replicate these fundamentals, your artwork will look impressive and pleasing to the eye.
By the way, notice that colour isn't on that list. Yes, colour choice is important and the way different colours work with, or against, each other is something you'll want to learn. But remember this...
If you get the colours wrong and the tonal values right, you'll make a great-looking piece of art. If you get the tonal values wrong, you're going to disappointed no matter how considered your colour choices are.
Tonal value is so important we created an ebook to help you understand it on a practical level. Get it here:
Whether you're brand new to art or a struggling veteran, drawing is the best medium thorough which to learn observational skill.
Pencils are handy so you're more likely to pick them up and practice when you have some spare time.
And because you've taken the dimension of colour out of the equation, it's easier to see what you need to see in order to make great-looking pictures.
Two suggestons for you:
1) Get a copy of our free ebook The Number 1 Way To Improve Your Artwork. The first half of the ebook covers drawing (it doesn't matter which edition you choose).
2) Visit the drawing and observation section of the website. It will give more tips for mastering the fundamentals.